Invasion under control: pilgrims and saints at the festival of the miracle in Salta City, Argentina
Daniela Salvucci (Free University of Bolzano-Bozen)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic data, the presentation focusses on the practices of dwelling the city of Salta during the festival of the patron Saints, highlighting the dialectic between the folk invasion by pilgrims and their staff and the political and religious control of the event.
Paper long abstract:
Few days before September the 15th, many thousands of people arrive in Salta for the Festival of the Lord and the Lady of the Miracle, patrons of both the city and the province, in North Western Argentina. The groups of pilgrims come from the entire Province, as the far villages of the Chaco plain, the Valleys, the Andean Highlands and Mountains. They enter the city by walking, riding horses or bicycling, playing drums, holding the flag of their local community and the statues of their Saints and Ladies, which belong to the community or to the single pilgrims. They camp in different public and private places in the City, such as schoolyards and gymnasiums, or empty storehouse and garages. Analysing ethnographic data, the presentation focusses on the practices of dwelling the city during the festive time, which involve complex meshwork of people, but also their horses, bikes and staff, the statues of their Saints, their relatives who migrated to Salta. Showing how these meshes occupy places and move in the urban space will allow us to point out the dialectic between the folk invasion and the political and religious control of the event. Indeed, the authorities of the provincial Catholic Church and government organize and lead the official procession in the city centre in the attempt to unify the different flows of the pilgrimage into a mass of followers. However, many of the pilgrims scatter instead of participate in it and their meshes spread around the urban space.
Dwelling in the festive city